Laura Gibson


In late summer of 2014, following the release of her highly praised 2012 album La Grande, Laura Gibson packed her things and moved from Portland to New York to study Creative Writing and have some time away from music. For the first part of that journey she took the “Empire Builder”, a legendary train that connects the Pacific North West with Chicago.

Just as she’d begun to feel settled, on March 26, 2015, her apartment building in the Lower East Side blew up from a gas explosion, killing two & injuring many. Laura was unharmed, but lost almost all that she owned and had been working on. All identification, musical instruments, stacks of notebooks, and every word she had written in the past several years was reduced to a pile of rubble. 

She spent the next few months rebuilding her life, bouncing between friends’ couches and guest rooms, and finishing her second semester, and all the while rewriting the lyrics she had lost, a recovery made possible by the help and support from hundreds of friends, fans, and strangers. 

Equally raw and focused, Empire Builder captures a life blown open: an individual mid-transformation. Gibson’s most personal record to date, it marks a huge leap forward as a songwriter, composer and producer.

She gathered a stellar band of dear old friends: guitarist/bassist Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie, Menomena), drummer/percussionist Dan Hunt (Neko Case), and composer/violinist Peter Broderick. Other contributors include Nate Query of The Decemberists and vocalist Alela Diane. Gibson co-produced the record with John Askew (Neko Case, The Dodos), spending her school breaks in his home studio, and in Broderick’s studio on the Oregon Coast. With Askew’s encouragement, Gibson returned to the recordings soon after the explosion. Having lost her guitar, which she had played on every record and show since the beginning, they decided to keep many of the scratch tracks from the original demos, building around them to create the final album.

Within her fiction studies in grad school, Gibson is finding her legs as a storyteller. Amidst trauma, loss and recovery, she rediscovered songwriting as a means of understanding her own life and choices. Empire Builder grapples with independence, womanhood, solitude, connection and aloneness. If Gibson has a thesis, it’s perhaps within the final words of the title track: “Hurry up and lose me / Hurry up and find me again.” With clear-eyed honesty, urgency and warmth, Empire Builder succeeds in capturing the moment between loss and rediscovery.


Tour Dates

  • Nov 20
    Bogen F
    - Zurich, CH
  • Nov 22
    Blue Bird Festival
    - Vienna, AT
  • Nov 23
    Conrad Sohm
    - Dornbrin, AT
  • Nov 24
    Meet Factory
    - Prague, CZ
  • Nov 26
    - Washington, DC, US
  • Nov 27
    Rough Trade NYC
    - Brooklyn, NY
  • Dec 5
    Bootleg Theatre
    - Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Dec 6
    Grand Ole BBQ, Flinn Springs
    - El Cajon, CA, US
  • Dec 7
    The Crepe Place
    - Santa Cruz, CA, US
  • Dec 8
    Bottom Of The Hill
    - San Francisco, CA, US
  • Jan 10
    The Olympic
    - Boise, ID, US
  • Jan 11
    Kilby Court
    - Salt Lake City, UT, US
  • Jan 12
    Downtown Artery
    - Fort Collins, CO, US
  • Jan 13
    Larimer Lounge
    - Denver, CO, US
  • Jan 15
    7th Street Entry
    - Minneapolis, MN
  • Jan 16
    - Chicago, IL
  • Jan 17
    The Mill
    - Iowa City, IA , US
  • Jan 18
    The Back Room @ Colectivo Coffe
    - Milwaukee, WI
  • Jan 24
    Cactus Cafe
    - Austin, US
  • Feb 25
    The Musician
    - Leicester, UK
  • Feb 26
    - Dublin, IE
  • Feb 27
    Soup Kitchen
    - Manchester, UK
  • Feb 28
    The Hug And Pint
    - Glasgow, UK
  • Mar 1
    Old Cinema Laundrette
    - Durham, UK
  • Mar 2
    Hyde Park Book Club
    - Leeds, UK
  • Apr 1
    - Gothenburg, SE
  • Apr 2
    Folk o Rock
    - Malmö, SE
  • Apr 3
    Ideal Bar Vega
    - Copenhagen, DK
  • Apr 5
    Lutherse Kerk
    - Groningen, NL
  • Apr 6
    Luxor Live
    - Arnhem , NL
  • Apr 10
    - Schorndorf, DE
  • Apr 11
    Heppel & Ettlich
    - München, DE
  • Apr 13
    La Paranthese
    - Nyon, CH


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Laura Gibson
Laura Gibson Empire Builder Digital Album Cover Medium New
Empire Builder
Laura Gibson